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01-28-2013, 12:45 AM   #1
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The Changing Landscape of Baseball and (maybe) a new Roster Approach

Consider this thread to be an attempt at injecting some critical thinking into the forum before the grand merger and before Spring Training begins.

After reading some of the threads on the Minor League Forum, many of which discuss Billy Hamilton and how he may affect the future of sabremetrics. One of the first posts that got me thinking was a post by Atomic Dumpling that provided a primer that explained the differences between different WAR calculations. A second was a series of posts discussing John Sickels' prospect rankings, which culminated in this quote by Scrap Irony:

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Scrap Irony [...] Hamilton's speed-adjusted WAR could very well double the next highest person on the list. He could be the Babe Ruth of the WAR speed set. And that makes me giddy. Imagine a line of .225/ .320/ .380 with a WAR in the top ten of the game. Could happen. Could very well happen.
This immediately reminded me of THIS article, which brought up the following points: [WARNING: Boring math nerd stuff ahead. If you don't like boring math nerd stuff, skip these quotes]

Quote:
 In 2000, during the apex of the stolen base depression, teams needed to maintain a 69.7% success rate on the base paths just to simply break even on the run value game (granted: game context — such as the pitchers, stadium, weather, and score — allows for varying levels of acceptable SB-rates). But by 2012, the break even point dipped to 66.6%.
Quote:
 Before we expand that concept, we must understand why the run values for CS and SB have changed. In the height of the Steroid Era, home runs came in discount baskets. In the aforementioned 2000 seasons, the HR/PA rate nearly hit 3%. Compared to the 2.68% of 2012. That comes to a difference of almost a whole home run per five or six games.
Quote:
 A simple equation of: Break Even Rate = 0.590 + 3.33 x (HR/PA) This phat function allows us to predict the optimal break even point not just for a league, not just for a team, but for a lineup.
Quote:
 Obviously, this analysis of the running game is crude. But the ideas welling underneath it point to a concentric theme: Managers need to buckle their courage pants and start beaming the green light again. Home runs may never come back in quite the same fashion, so stealing deserves its renascence.
[end boring math nerd stuff]

So, it seems that the league may be trending to a spot where speed is becoming more and more valuable. The effects of speed for a batter are relatively varied: outs can become hits or errors, singles can become doubles, stolen bases become a more common practice, and so on. A parallel can be seen in other sports leagues such as the NFL where speed-oriented players are gaining ground.

Furthermore, because of the change in landscape across MLB since the end of the PED era, a change in the calculus could lead to the speedy player being a more common contributer to a team than the slugger. Because there have been fewer and fewer true sluggers, maybe the wheel turns and the Ryan Ludwicks, Raul Ibanezes or Michael Cuddyers get phased out while the Michael Brantleys, BJ Uptons, or Ben Reveres become the players in vogue. As the landscape becomes more varied, players with unique skillsets (such as Our very own Brandon Phillips might become more prevalent than the replaceable parts that have been around MLB for years.

One of the really interesting things about WAR is that it got fans to think about players in a different way. Players like Adam Dunn who were ridiculed because of high strikeouts, poor defense, and low batting average were seen to have much higher value than some had thought. Now, players with elite speed might be viewed in the same way as Dunn was after the modernization of stats.

So, Reds fans! If this trend continues... how do you think this will influence the landscape of the game, and how would you use this information going forward to better the team?
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